Sunday, November 16, 2014

Down One Good Storm

I know everyone is anxiously waiting for more snow, but it's worth remembering that even though the odds are better here than elsewhere, it's still pretty much a crap shoot for having a decent natural snowpack by mid November.

Let's take a look, for example, at the snowpack statistics at the Snowbird SNOTEL site, which covers a 26-year period.  The snowpack snow water content at this site currently sits at 2.4 inches, compared to a median of 4.0 inches (and an average that is also right around 4 inches).  That basically means that the difference between what we have right now and average is one good storm (think a wet 15 incher).  Years with big snowpacks in early to mid-November, like 2004-2005 (purple) are really fantastic, but they are the exception, not the rule.  What we have right now is not all that unusual.

When I moved to Utah, I was always surprised to see snow rich resorts like Alta making snow.  It seemed like an embarrassment of riches, but it clearly is a good investment for them when the early season starts slowly.  One of the blessings of the high-altitude Utah climate is that when it's not snowing, conditions are often ideal for snowmaking.  That was certainly the case today with cold, dry weather and minimal wind.  Between the recontouring of Corkscrew and their snow cannons, Alta looks to have a pretty good base of man made laid down.

We will remain down one good storm probably through the work week.  A couple of weak systems may clip us on Thursday or Friday, but right now they don't look like they will produce much.  The models are hinting at some snowier weather next weekend, but that's still a ways beyond my predictability horizon so we'll have to see how things shape up in the coming days.


  1. Dr. Jim Is there a way to get data from Top Cecret for the mere mortal? Or will this become the "No tell Snotel"?

  2. Hi Jim,

    Got an email from amazon saying that my pre-order for your book could not be fulfilled because the item could not be found. It asked if I wanted to cancel the order... know anything?

    1. That sounds really strange. Books are being distributed, although I don't know specifically about the Amazon distribution. I'll do some checking.

    2. Anonymous - can you send me an e-mail to jim.steenburgh at

      Also, if you are jonesing for a copy and live in Salt Lake, Weller Book Works in Trolley Square has them in stock on their signed copies table and in their winter sports section.